LGBTQ San Diego County News February 2023, Issue 4 Volume 9

Page 1



Trans Hate in Santee and a Rant P11




Our community has been built on the need for resources and support, and sectors in our community have also been called to create organizations that enrich and serve their own specific needs. One such organization is the San Diego LGBTQ Coalition. The Coalition has been working on the social, political, and economic advancement of the diverse San Diego Black LGBTQ community. We talked to its members and wanted to hear more about its start, the importance of LGBTQ History in Black History and the future.

OPINION Beyond Black History Month P17

NEWS #HillcrestSanDiego If you Build It, They Will Come P16


Calling yourself and ally is more than just having LGBTQ+ friends or acquaintances, it is fighting hand and hand for the betterment of our community. One individual that has rolled up her sleeves to help the community thru her work with Gilead is Karla Quezada Torres. We wanted everyone to get to know her better, her family and her reasons for being closely involve with our community, we set down to get to know more about what motivates her and her support.

Can you give our readers a little background, who is Karla Quezada-Torres?



The Devil is alive in the United States, and it lives in right wing, Republican driven state legislators. According to an article written by Matt Loffman for PBS, the Human Rights Campaign has identified 30 state legislators who proposed more than 115 bills targeting Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming, and Non-Binary rights in their states.


I was born in El Salvador and brought to Los Angeles, CA at the age of three, due to the violence and war happening in the country. I lived in South LA in low-income neighborhoods, high crime rates, and with many social determinants of health & health disparities affecting our Black and Brown communities. My parents planted the seed of love for education, learning, and helping others. I developed an interest in the medical field and attended Francisco Bravo Medical High School East Los Angeles and then got accepted at San Diego State University. I moved to San Diego to attend San Diego State University and pursued my dream to make a difference in the health field with an emphasis on prevention. While at SDSU, I met my Spouse, and together we formed a beautiful family with six kids, two dogs, one cat, and a bird. A Full House!


1 LGBTQSD.NEWS FEBRUARY 2023 VOLUME 4 ISSUE 9 LGBTQSD.NEWS FEBRUARY 3, 2023 VOLUME 4 ISSUE 9 La Jolla Institute Institutional Review Board Protocol # VD-259-0822 A3 Approved for use until: 08/23/2023 Eligibility you are healthy, 18+ years old you have been infected with monkeypox and/or received the monkeypox vaccine Participation brief health questionnaire up to 5 study visits with blood draws compensation up to $500 for time and effort VOLUNTEERS NEEDED MONKEYPOX STUDY Have you been vaccinated and/or recovered from monkeypox? (858)-255-0680 to contribute to scientific research COMMUNITY VOICES BIG MIKE & FRIENDS Featuring Johan Engman P8 LIFE BEYOND THERAPY Why I Meditate P9 PUBLIC SERVICE
from Toni: Celebrating
History Month
Mean Girls Hits San Diego P14 On Stage P15
Guide of Lessons Learned While Dating P10 NEWS AIDS Memorial Groundbreaking to Be Held in February! P3
Blood Ban, with New Restrictions P13
Response to Anti-Trans Legislation
FDA to Replace Gay Men Donating
Terrill Harriss Jordan Daniels Paige Coe Courtney Cureton Angelle Maua

San Diego Black LGBTQ Coalition continued from Page 1

Can you give us a little background on the Coalition?

The San Diego Black LGBTQ Coalition is a nonprofit 501©3 organization, originally founded as a program in 2015 but became a nonprofit in 2021. The Coalition was formed by a group of Black LGBTQ leaders who noticed an absence in centralized resources, programming and services for the Black LGBTQ+ community and the coalition became their way of creating a space for Black LGBTQ+ folx to go to feel they had a place, they had a home, they belonged. Arose was our mission “to build a united front of diverse Black LGBTQ community members for our social, political, and economic advancement by forming a central hub for San Diego Black LGBTQ life” with a vision of “…a strong, sustained and connected Black LGBTQ Community in San Diego”. Over the years, the coalition formed into a nonprofit as we learned the importance of having individuals impacted the most in positions of power to make decisions with and for the community. As a reflection, we believed it was necessary for Black LGBTQ+ leaders to be able to make community informed decisions independently which has provided more fluidity, liberation and freedom while working to reshape structures to be most

helpful for our work and the community. At this point, the Coalition has moved from an annual budget of $5k to hosting the annual San Diego Black Pride celebration, emergency Black Transgender Funds, emergency funds for Black LGBTQ+ individuals, hosting quarterly mini-balls and being a financial sponsor to local Kiki balls, maintaining our Damon J. Shearer Academic Scholarship Fund which awarded $20k in scholarship funds last year, and more.

What is the importance of remembering that LGBTQ History is part of Black History?

There is an intersection between LGBTQ and Black history as we have had countless, often unsung Black LGBTQ leaders that propelled this country forward many times during episodes of great strife, fighting through racism and overt acts of oppression while trying to find safe places to be themselves especially during times when being who you are could land you in jail or worse.

Black history has included many Black LGBTQ+ leaders or strong Black LGBTQ+ allies, such as Bayard Rustin who was a confidant to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, one of his right-hand men and civil rights activist, Marsha P. Johnson, a Transgender

Book Experience at the Valencia Park/Malcolm X Library on February 11th, 2023, from 3pm-5:30pm in partnership with the San Diego Black Artist Collective and the San Diego Public Library. This will be an interactive experience to have intentional, educational conversations about stigma, racism, transphobia, homophobia, misogyny, and ways we can continue to stand up against hate. This event will also include a poetry slam along with free food, raffles, prizes and more. Also check out our Coalition produced docuseries Intersectional Lens: Part 1 – The Black, Queer & Trans Experience at the San Diego Black Film Festival April 26-30, 2023, the first of its kind in San Diego highlighting and uplifting the Black LGBTQ experience from a multitude of intersectional lens. San Diego Black Pride 2023 is also right around the corner. Keep your eyes out for more information on San Diego Black Pride 2023 being released soon and check out our website at https://www. or email me at if interested in becoming a sponsor for San Diego Black Pride 2023. This

year’s Black Pride will incorporate a partnership with the Imperial Court de San Diego, return of the Meet Me at the Back Mini Ball Volume 4, and our infamous Black Pride Pool Party. Stay tuned, this is a 4-day event you aren’t going to want to miss!!

How can the community get involved?

Check out our website at where you can follow us on Facebook or IG as well as stay up to date on upcoming events including our quarterly Community Engagement Forums, both in person and virtual. If you’d like to donate to support local Black LGBTQIA+ programming, services, and events, please visit our website at https://www.sdblackcoalition. org/support-us. If you’d like to volunteer for one of our programs or events, please reach out to our Community Relations Chair Paige Coe at pcoe@ As you continue this month, remember Black History is not limited to just one month. Black history has been made every month. Black history is our history and where would the world be without the Black community.

activist who helped start the Stonewall Movement 50+ years ago in New York City, Langston Hughes, novelist, writer, and playwright often with undertones of homosexuality during a time where separate but equal was legal and many more that have led us to where we are today. Our ancestors led us to where we are, but it becomes up to us to continue to take the world where they always dreamt of but couldn’t fully reimagine. Today Black history consists of many stories (history, herstory, their story) including Laverne Cox, Lil Nas X, Rhoyle Ivy King, Tracie O’ Brien, Larue Fields, Lady Pepper, and Alphonso David to name a few. Each of these incredible leaders walks in the steps of our Black ancestors that inspired us to walk even further than can be imagined. Without our often-unsung Black LGBTQ+ leaders who were brave enough to fight the multilayers of racism, oppression, homophobia and transphobia, our world couldn’t be what it is today and though we still have far to go, we’ve come so far already. We can do this!

What events or programs do you guys have coming up?

The San Diego Black LGBTQ Coalition has several things coming up. Feel free to check out our Black LGBTQ+ Human

“There is an intersection between LGBTQ and Black history”
(courtesy images)

Congratulations of the promotion to Senior Community Liaison for Gilead. What does it mean to you to get that promotion and also be part of Gilead?

I have been at Gilead for 19 months now and I can tell you, it has been a wonderful journey. I love my role as HIV Community Liaison! Gilead Sciences is a biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Foster City, California, that focuses on researching and developing antiviral drugs used in the treatment of HIV/ AIDS, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, influenza, and COVID-19. Their core values of Integrity, Inclusion, Teamwork, Excellence, Accountability, and the ongoing commitment to creating a diverse, inclusive culture are what continue to assure me I am at the right place. As an HIV Community Liaison, I have the honor to work with various organizations, clinics, health departments, and community members. I am a Facilitator, Connector, and Educator.

Why is it so important to give back and be an ally to the LGTQ community?

We need more allies and accomplices! Allies and accomplices that choose this journey must be clear that this is not a way to seek personal gain or recognition. This is not about you! It is a path that carries a lot of responsibility because on your shoulders you will carry the tears, stories, pain, and successes of our LGBTQ+, Black, and Brown community, Persons living with HIV/AIDS, or anyone that is marginalized. The LGBTQ+ community still faces hate crimes, employment and housing discrimination, barriers to health care, and harmful bias. We need to stand up against discrimination, hate crimes, biases, and injustices!

Only together will we create a safe and equitable world for our LGBTQ+ community.

How do you support?

I am an HIV Community Liaison, an ally, and an accomplice supporting with education, awareness, and resources along the whole-health care continuum in the HIV Status Neutral Continuum of Care. I have over 23 years of extensive experience and a deep understanding of the needs in the communities hit the hardest through my previous role as Director of HIV & LGBTQ+ Services at San Ysidro Health. In my current Community Liaison role at Gilead Sciences, I have four major toolboxes (i.e., Facilitator, Connector, Educator, and Community Engagement).

I support our community by using my voice, and my privileges to advocate, raise awareness and make an impact for change. I stay educated and informed and continue to seek ways to be an accomplice. I have much more to learn and do.

Do you believe that Love and Acceptance start at home?

Love and Acceptance should start at home, school, work… EVERYWHERE! I came from a traditional, conservative Catholic family. My High School back in the late 90s was one of the first High Schools in L.A. that didn’t shame or prohibit same-gender-loving couples to show their love and affection throughout campus. I loved it! As a mother, daughter, aunt, friend, and colleague, I show love, affection, acceptance, and safety to all. I want people to feel my love and for them to feel they can be authentic without judgment, stigma, or fear.

Having a Family that is involved and supportive is important to you can you tell us why?

My family is my everything! We do so many things together. My husband and I have taught our kids that our purpose in life is to love, care, and protect each other, and our community and stand up against injustices! They have joined me at PRIDES, AIDS Walks, Cancer Walks, and Rallies before they were even born… you name it! They overhear me talk about addressing the elephant in the room when it comes to sex, HIV, STIs, Mental Health, Racism, and Sexism etc.

In your eyes how can the Latino community and the LGBTQ community become more involved in supporting each other?

Creating safe spaces is important. We know Hillcrest/ North Park are wonderful LGBTQ-friendly & safe spaces, but we need to reach out to other neighborhoods. Invite them to be inclusive, safe, and an ally. I provide Cultural Humility training to clinics and other organizations with a focus on addressing all the “isms”. I want to continue educating and raising awareness in our Latino/a/e/x community (English/Spanish) and plant seeds of activism, advocacy, and resiliency – with the hope that one day they too can join the movement and embrace a safe, inclusive, and welcoming environment for our LGBTQ+ community.

In your free time, what do you enjoy doing?

In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my husband, kids, and family. I love watching Netflix with a glass of red wine. Other activities include dancing, reading, cooking, and doing makeup.


For over 35 years, there has been a campaign for San Diego to join cities across North America to establish an AIDS Memorial honoring and remembering the over 8,500 men, women, and children who have died of AIDS. Now, Mayor Todd Gloria and the City of San Diego with the San Diego AIDS Memorial Task Force are making plans for the official groundbreaking ceremony to be held this month with the completion and dedication to held in 2024.

A San Diego AIDS Memorial has been the long-time dream of City Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez who has chaired three official Task Forces under Mayors Susan Golding, Kevin Faulconer and now Mayor Gloria. Commissioner Ramirez’s co-chair for the last seven years has been the former First Lady of San Diego Katherine Stuart Faulconer with its vice-chair being San Diego AIDS Walk founder, City Commissioner Susan Jester.

The AIDS Memorial will be

built in the new Olive Street Park acquisition development which will also play a major part in the groundbreaking in the Bankers Hill Neighborhood.

The San Diego AIDS Memorial will include four huge memorial boulders with four plaques with the history of the AIDS Crisis in San Diego, a list of AIDS organizations and heroes/activists. There will also be panels with audio playback at interpretive signs and panels in English and Spanish.

The San Diego AIDS Memorial Task Force is also working on a proposed “Memorial Tree” which people can put a “leaf” with the name of a loved one lost to AIDS.

“This has been almost four decades of the determination and love of many San Diegans who want us to never forget those over 8,500 people who died of AIDS,” stated Commissioner Ramirez. “This campaign definitely ‘took a village’ and the unwavering support of three mayors and a passionate First Lady.”

Karla Quezada Torres continued from Page 1 (courtesy images)

Everything from participation in sports to accessing medical care has been attacked. According to a poll conducted by PBS NewsHour/ NPR/Marist fewer than 3 in 10 people support any anti-Trans legislation, yet the Republic legislators continue to introduce and vote for all of them.

It is hard to understand why these Republicans are voted into office over and over when they obviously do not reflect the wishes of their constituents.

Transgender youth are a prime target for hateful laws mainly targeting healthcare, sports in school, and updating identity documents to match their current name and gender identity. There are 3 states, Arizona, Arkansas, and Alabama where laws specifically ban access to appropriate and necessary healthcare for Trans youth, even though these best practices are approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association. In Alabama the law makes it a felony crime for physicians to administer medical transition care for youth. Let’s take a look at where states stand on the issue.

There are currently 18 states that have passed laws banning Transgender children from participating in school sports. Mainly this affects K through 12 students. So, if there is a Transgender girl wanting to play on the girls volleyball team she would not be allowed according to these laws. These laws create a road to hate and bullying in schools and communities as well as causing extreme harm to the Trans, Gender Non-Conforming, and Non-Binary youth. We know that these youth have a hard enough time with harassment by teachers, school staff, and other students without adding another layer of discrimination so basic as participating in sports. The states with presently

the worst anti-Transgender legislation are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. Big surprise there, right?

The following states have the highest risk of passing extreme anti-Trans legislation: Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia. Think twice before you move there.

States presently with a low risk of anti-Trans legislation are: Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Rhode Island. But really, we need to keep a close watch on these states.

If you are looking for the safest states in the country to live in, they are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and Washington D.C. These are the most liberal states in America.

Oklahoma, Texas, and Tennessee do not have specific laws to ban appropriate medical care for Trans youth, but state officials have tried to force investigations into families of Trans youth under the guise of child abuse. Most of these kinds of actions have been stopped by Federal Judges or have been put on hold but the initial push by such people as Governor Gregg Abbott of Texas to enforce these kinds of actions has caused much harm to Trans, Gender Non-Conforming,

and Non-Binary youth and their families. It was reported that the Department of Child Protective Services received a letter from the Governor to begin investigating these families and report any affirming healthcare as child abuse. They are basically terrorizing parents and children with no legal standing to do so. The Texas Supreme Court initially stopped the investigations, but soon rescinded it. They also noted that the Governor had no authority to order these investigations. Notice that there are no states listed from the south with any type of protections for LGBTQ people. The South typically has the worst political and social agendas. While some of these southern states have huge political issues to deal with such as unemployment, education, voting rights, and severe racial equity problems, they choose instead to focus on Trans and Gender Non-Conforming people.

They are highly conservative Christian states and I believe are using the Trans community to create a very emotional religious issue using lies and misdirection such as characterizing youth under the Trans umbrella as pedophiles, groomers, perverts, mentally ill, abominations, and more. These bad actors get folks all stirred up about things that actually don’t happen. The people from these states only listen to the rhetoric spewed by politicians and the rightwing Christian actors. When this happens, the politicians

alone in 2022. It seems no one in the LGBTQ community is safe from the right-wing extremists.

A Human Rights Campaign press release from March 24 ,2022 noted that two Republican governors had vetoed anti-Transgender legislation, Governor Spencer Cox from Utah and Governor Eric Holcomb from Indiana. Governor Cox wrote a letter explaining why he vetoed the bill and I quote, “Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few. I don’t understand what they are going through or why they feel the way they do, but I want them to live.”

can ignore the real problems their states have. I believe the ignorance and the lack of critical thinking abilities by so many people in our country allows the corrupt right to create maelstroms of hate and violence and direct attention away from what they, as politicians, are really up to.

These same practices are also seen in many midwestern and mountain states. Many of our midwestern and mountain states may not be very safe places for the LGBTQ Community either. According to the Williams Institute most of these states have no laws discriminating against LGBTQ people, they also do not have laws protecting them. Issues like employment discrimination, right to marry, education, access to healthcare, etc. have a greater impact on LGBTQ people in these states. There is also a greater concentration of Black and Latinx people in these regions as well as the south that are highly impacted by the quality of life for our LGBTQ folks of color. It is a sad state of affairs when there are only 10 states out of 50 that are rated with the highest quality of protections for LGBTQ people.

This anti-Trans wave of hate and violence is fueled in large part by the Republican agenda as well as far right extremists like the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and conservative Christian based personalities. The rise in anti-Transgender laws and focused hate has risen ten-fold in the United States. The Armed Conflict and Location and Event Data Project says there are 12 times as many anti-LGBTQ incidents in 2021 as there were in 2020. How can Transgender, Non-Binary and Gender NonConforming people even begin to feel safe anymore?

GLAAD, an LGBTQ advocacy non-profit, has identified 124 protests and threats against Drag Queen events

So far nothing more has been heard about Governor Holcomb’s stance, but less than a year after the Human Rights Campaign press release, on January 28 CNN and NPR reported that Governor Cox climbed down from his principled position by signing a vastly harsher bill into law that prohibits health care providers from “providing a hormonal transgender treatment to new patients who were not diagnosed with gender dysphoria before a certain date” and prohibits them from “performing sex characteristic surgical procedures on a minor for the purpose of effectuating a sex change.”

Governor Cox said regarding this political hypocrisy, “While not a perfect bill, we are grateful for Sen. (Michael) Kennedy’s more nuanced and thoughtful approach to this terribly divisive issue. More and more experts, states and countries around the world are pausing these permanent and life-altering treatments for new patients until more and better research can help determine the long-term consequences. We will continue to push the Legislature for additional resources to organizations that work to help this important Utah community,” he added. “While we understand our words will be of little comfort to those who disagree with us, we sincerely hope that we can treat our Transgender families with more love and respect as we work to better understand the science and consequences behind these procedures.”

Since I live in a state that is one of the top safe havens for Transgender people like myself it sometimes is too easy to get complacent about the rights we have in California. Elections happen, and new politicians take office. There is a “never say never” component to our lives, especially around politics. I ask that we all be vigilant, that we all stay focused and aware of the hate that rears its vicious head in our own and nearby neighborhoods. I am sure no one saw Hitler as a threat at first. Find ways to help and support our community in other states and be a part of the process to ensure all people are treated fairly, equally and respectfully under the law. We all have the power to elect responsible, intelligent, moral people to be our elected officials. Never forget that and never let others forget it.

Anti-Trans Legislation continued from Page 1
“Transgender youth are a prime target for hateful laws”
(image by
5 LGBTQSD.NEWS FEBRUARY 2023 VOLUME 4 ISSUE 9 Visit us at or email for more information Use cell phone camera to scan QR code above to access information about Caltrans upcoming opportunities CONTRACTING OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE FOR SMALL B USINESS ! I NCLUDING MINORITY, WOMEN, AND D ISABLED VETERANS


Toni G. Atkins


LGBTQ San Diego County News PO Box 34664 San Diego, CA 92163 858.886.9458



Nicole Murray Ramirez 619.241.5672


Cesar A. Reyes

February is Black History Month, a time to celebrate the vast number of achievements and contributions the Black community has made, and examine the innumerable challenges they have endured, overcome, and continue to face today. I am especially pleased to have recently participated in the swearing-in ceremonies for two outstanding Black leaders and friends, both of whom made history: Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, the first Black woman to lead the nation’s second largest city, and Dr. Shirley Weber, the first Black person elected as California’s Secretary of State.

While we have a long way to go to reach racial parity in office, these leaders and many others are helping to close that critical gap and ensure the diverse experiences and needs of the Black community are represented and respected.

Do You Qualify for the California Earned Income Tax Credit?

W-2s and other tax forms having been mailed out, and the tax season now begins in earnest for most folks. It’s time

to share information about the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC), an incredible cash refund program that puts real money back in people’s pockets.

In recent years, over $200 million CalEITC tax credits have been extended to qualifying San Diegans. One of my proudest achievements while serving as Speaker of the Assembly was establishing this vital program, and I’m heartened by that success and want to make sure everyone who is eligible benefits from it! The first step to see if you can get this tax credit is to visit You can also find free tax prep help on the same site. Finally, to claim the credit, make sure to file a state tax return, even if you don’t owe anything.

People who qualify for the CalEITC AND have a child under six may also qualify for the Young Child Tax Credit –extra reason to visit today and learn more.

Women of the District Nominations Now Open

In honor of Women’s History Month every March, the California Legislature honors some of the outstanding women who live and work in our communities as part of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus “Woman of the Year” celebration. Last year in District 39, we went a step further and asked you to nominate local women for their contributions. The response was incredible, and we were able to celebrate our Woman of the Year as well as twenty-five Women of the District.

California’s 39th Senate District is home to so many remarkable women who serve our communities, organizations, businesses, students, and nonprofits. Once again, we are requesting your nominations to highlight them! All we ask is that the nominees have a strong connection to the 39th Senate District, a good track-record of involvement in the community, and that nominations help reflect our district’s amazing diversity. I’m looking forward to reading about all the women who make our community shine.

Please submit your nominations online at https:// women-year-nomination by Friday, February 10.



Brittany Berger

SALES 858.886.9458


Big Mike Phillips 619.807.7324



Allan Acevedo Berto Fernández

Big Mike Phillips

Brittany Berger Connor Maddocks

Korie Houston

Michael Kimmel

Neal Putnam

Toni G. Atkins


LGBTQ San Diego County News is distributed free every first Friday of the month. © 2023. All rights reserved.


LGBTQ San Diego County News encourages letters to the editor and guest editorials. Please email them directly to and include your name, phone number and address for verification. We reserve the right to edit letters for brevity and accuracy. Letters and guest editorials do not necessarily reflect the views of the publishers or staff.


Press releases and story ideas are welcomed. Send press releases, tips, photos or story ideas to For breaking news and investigative story ideas, contact the editor by phone or email. Copyright © 2023 LGBTQ San Diego County News

Editor’s Note: The opinions written in this publication’s advertorial, editorial and opinion pages are the author’s own and does not necessarily represent the opinions of the staff and/or publisher of LGBTQ San Diego County News. The newspaper and its staff should be held harmless of liability or damages.

“This publication was supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library.”

—Toni G. Atkins represents the 39th District in the California Senate. Follow her on Twitter @SenToniAtkins. Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins swearing in Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber, Ph.D. (courtesy image)

—Nicole Murray Ramirez has been writing a column since 1973. He has been a Latino/gay activist for almost half a century and has advised and served the last seven mayors of San Diego. Named the ‘Honorary Mayor of Hillcrest’ by a city proclamation, he has received many media awards including from the prestigious San Diego Press Club. Reach Nicole at and follow him on Twitter @Nmrsd2.


February is a month that is a celebration of love and relationships. So, I am putting the spotlight on some well-known relationships/marriages in our LGBTQA + COMMUNITY:

2 1/2 years

Together since 1986 Married in 2016

Together since 2008 Married in 2013

Together 9 years Married 5 years

Together since 1993 Married in 2008

Together 19 years Married 9 years

Together since 2006 Married in 2013

Nicole Murray Ramirez
Zachary Stachulski & Ryan Bedrosian Together Joyce Marieb & Linda Barufaldi
Together 50 years Married 14 years
Teresa Oyos & Rose Ruybal David & Jessica Mier William Lopez & Phillip Collum GlitzGlam & Anthony Greika Tali & Kyle Lopez Bob Lehman & Tom Felkner
Jennifer Ianoale & Delia Pezzella Together 11 years Married 9 years


Big Mike Phillips

—Big Mike Phillips is an activist, fundraiser, bartender and photographer who has lived in San Diego for 30 years. He has helped create two nonprofits and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity. He has been a photographer for more than 25 years and has recorded our LGBTQ history not only in San Diego but around the country, including three LGBTQ marches on Washington D.C. Contact Big Mike at 619-807-7324, or

Iam excited to introduce our readers to amazing and caring people who live, work, play and do business in our community and city. Learning about people of all lifestyles, talents, and personalities who I think would be interesting for our readers to enjoy. San Diego has a wonderful diversity of individuals that make our slice of paradise the greatest place to live and enjoy each other’s uniqueness.

I am so blessed by the many friends I have in my life; each one has a special place in my heart. I was brought up to see the good in everyone, so when I am fortunate to find those individuals in my life, I cherish them as my own family. Luck so has it I have a handful of such friends, but I want to tell you about a very special straight man who has a huge compassionate heart, full of so much love and totally does care for his fellow human beings. I met Johan Engman about twelve years ago when he opened his second Fig Tree Cafe in Hillcrest. Even on that first meeting I learned about his big heart, a mutual friend Wally Schlotter introduced us. Johan had a burrito on his menu named after my dear friend Rob Benzon who we lost in a drowning accident in Acapulco, many years ago. When ordered every cent would go back to the Rob Benzon Foundation. Johan is a very smart, good looking, kind, caring, and loving person. This is a man who has incredible love for his beautiful wife and children, he cares for his community, and loves living his life to the fullest. It is my pleasure to once again reintroduce to you my wonderful friend and brother, the Heart of San Diego, Johan Engman. If you have never eaten at Fig Tree or Breakfast Republic, you need to treat yourself. Johan’s list of restaurants keeps growing and you can find them on the website under:

How did you end up in San Diego and what do you love about it?

I was born and raised in Östersund, Sweden before moving to San Diego in 1997 at the age of 16. One year later, I moved out on my own while still in high school,

working nights as a dishwasher to pay rent. I was promoted to busser, then server, and continued working at multiple restaurants throughout San Diego until I was 25. Realizing my passion for the industry, I gave himself two years to save money to open my own restaurant.

On October 9th, 2008, I opened Fig Tree Cafe in Pacific Beach on a shoestring budget of $45,000. After three months of losing money, I was faced with a tough decision. To close the restaurant and make some drastic changes to my life, or somehow produce a way to keep the doors open. Many people suggested that I close the place down. “The economy is terrible Johan, nobody will blame you for closing,” they’d say. Due to my stubbornness and determination, I decided that under no circumstances would I throw in the towel. I limited the hours of operation for the restaurant as much

as possible and finagled my way into a full-time job in the accounting department of a pharmaceutical company (long story on how I managed to pull that off without any experience). I managed to pay personal bills and offset the losses of the restaurant for three years after opening, until the restaurant finally turned a profit. In 2011, I left my corporate job and opened Fig Tree Cafe’s second location.

I love San Diego because it has everything: Beaches, urban life, restaurants, 2 hours to mountains and skiing, desert, close to Mexico and LA. Great weather!

What gets you most excited about life?

My family and traveling. I have two kids, River, 3.5 years old, and Sienna, 1.5 years old, with my amazing wife and best friend Yasmin.

I’m a Bonafede travel junkie, I can’t get enough of it. I’ve

What or Who really makes you laugh and why?

Conan O’Brien, Norm McDonald, and the combination of the two in interviews (Conan has done) over the years.

Who inspires you in life to do your very best and why?

Marcus Aurelius. He was a Roman emperor and stoic philosopher. His writings and philosophies are great.

If you could witness any event of the past, present, or future, what would it be and why?

Hmmm, this is a tough one. There are so many... The signing of the US constitution, having a conversation with Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, or Seneca.

If you could give someone advice about your art, hobby, or business, what would you tell them?

Do what you are passionate about. Always treat people with respect and dignity. Don’t do something with the main objective being to make money, do something that you are passionate about, and the money will come. When in doubt, do something nice for someone else (it will come back to you tenfold).

What are the top five valves you live by?

1. Treat people the way you want to be treated

2. Be humble. Note on this: Being humble is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.

3. Be resilient, don’t give up, push through your comfort zone. Believe in yourself (because if you don’t, why should someone else?)

been to about 80 countries and love seeing and experiencing new countries and cultures.

In your professional life what makes your business stand out and how has it changed your life?

My biggest focus has always been on our core values. It is and has always been important to me to do things certain ways, to treat people the way you want to be treated and try to make the world a better place if even just a little bit. We focus our hiring on core values, ensuring that the individuals we hire resonate with values such as being humble, having an ownership mentality, being resilient, among a few others.

In one or two sentences: “How would friends describe you”?

He loves life, he loves and adores his family. Any opportunity to travel and see a new place he takes it.

4. Don’t let things you can’t control, control you. In other words, don’t let things outside of your control make you upset or ruin your day because you can’t do anything about it.

5. “Amor Fati”; like number 4... Amor Fati is a Latin phrase that may be translated as “love of fate” or “love of one’s fate”. It is used to describe an attitude in which one sees everything that happens in one’s life, including suffering and loss, as good or, at the very least, necessary.

Gratitude is so important in each of our lives, what are you most grateful for, and how do you pay it forward?

I’m immensely grateful for my family, our health and having been lucky enough to be born in a free country. I try to be kind, treat others with respect and not live in a bubble (realizing that we have it very, very good in the US).

Instagram: @johansadventures

Photo by Rikke Photography
“Do what you are passionate about”
JOHAN ENGMAN Johan Engman (courtesy images)


As someone who has been meditating (on-andoff) since 1975, I have gone through many stages and phases of meditation. I have taken weeks/months/years off, and then come back to it. I keep coming back because I get benefits from meditation and I feel calmer and more grounded when I do it.

Let me break my meditative experiences down into three categories:

Simple Meditation: Just sit quietly and listen. You can focus on your breath, a candle, or a spot on the wall. Or you can repeat an appealing word like “peace” or “calm” to yourself.

I recommend to my clients that if they want to try meditating, start with a minute. Nothing more. It that works well for you, add another minute the next time. And you don’t have to do it sitting on the floor, you can sit in a chair, meditate standing up, or – my favorite – walking. Walking meditation is great if you’re easily distracted, as I am, or if you get antsy when you’re not moving.

Intermediate Meditation: Once you’ve been meditating more often and for longer periods of time, it’s typical to notice all the resistance in your mind, wondering “Is this worth it?” or “Why am I doing this?”

The fabulous and funny Buddhist teacher Pema

Chodron says that the purpose of meditation is to “stay” with yourself, no matter what you’re thinking about or how you feel. She says that most of us run away from ourselves when we feel bad, sad or mad, distracting ourselves with entertainment/shopping/sex or numbing ourselves with alcohol/drugs/mindless TV.

It’s really hard to “stay” with yourself when you feel like shit. However, this is when staying is the most beneficial: you can learn so much when you don’t run away and abandon yourself. I’ve found


previously undiscovered wells of inner strength when I made peace with feeling rotten or thinking depressing thoughts.

Advanced Meditation: When I’ve gone on ten-day, silent meditation retreats, they’ve been very intense experiences. The retreats I attended alternated 45-minute periods of sitting and walking meditation. You start at 5AM (gulp) and end around 9PM, with silent meals, work periods and free time throughout the day.

The first three days are usually awful: sitting hurts, no matter how you do it. You begin to notice all the garbage floating around in your mind when there are no distractions. It becomes very clear how difficult it is to just “stay” present with yourself. I found myself starting to plan my life after the retreat. In fact, planning is a great way to not stay with yourself: it’s just another form of escaping the present discomfort.

I’ve had a few extraordinary experiences meditating: flashbacks from parallel lives, altered physical states of being, deep peace so powerful that I thought I could stop my heart if I wanted to and leave this life quietly and easily.

Obviously, I didn’t because I’m here writing this. But these were amazing experiences. However, in forty-plus years of meditating, I’ve only had this kind of stuff happen a few dozen times. Most of the time, it’s far from exciting or mindblowing. It’s just about staying with the irritation, boredom or physical discomfort. And what have I learned from that? Self-discipline. I know that sounds so dry and uninteresting, but being able to accept all aspects of myself (the parts I love and the parts I despise) is pretty damn great! It leads to being able to accept all aspects of other people too (very helpful when someone is as annoying as hell).

Interested? Check out Pema Chodron or Jack Kornfield, two of my favorite teachers. They have lots of YouTube videos where you can see – for free – what their versions of meditation are all about. They can take you from the very beginning all the way to… wherever it is that you want to go.

Meditation has been quite an amazing journey for me: I invite you to give it a try and see what it’s like to really “stay” with yourself, whatever you’re thinking or feeling. It’s powerful stuff, doesn’t cost you a cent and has no side effects…

—Michael Kimmel is a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in helping LGBT clients achieve their goals and deal with anxiety, depression, grief, sexually addictive behavior, coming out, relationship challenges and homophobia. Contact him at 619-955-3311 or visit
“I’ve had a few extraordinary experiences meditating”



Korie Houston

— Korie has almost a decade of experience working within the LGBTQIA+ community. Holding various positions within Social Justice advocacy in higher education and journalism in queer publications. He currently works at the University of California, San Diego providing support and championing causes for marginalized communities on campus.

Hi, it’s me, I’m the problem, it’s me. Houston, we have a problem. Straight up, it’s just about dating. I could sit here for hours furiously typing into my notes app about the trials and tribulations that come with it. There’s preparing for the date mentally, physically, and also emotionally if you’re a hopeless romantic like me. There are so many unspoken rules attached to this human mating ritual and I’m beyond over it. Yes, I know what you may be thinking. Korie, you don’t have to go through it, just be single. As I’ve stated before we all long for companionship in different forms. Before the relationship I was in that spawned this series of vulnerabilities I’ve since penned, I was comfortable in my skin. I knew who I was, where my life was going and what I thought I needed. One day I hope to be back at that point but that’s simply not where I’m at and that’s okay.

The breakup broke me and in turn I’m no longer seeking validation but seeking out what the meaning of love really is. Is it actually unconditional? Irrational? I think it looks so different for any and everyone that no one can give me one concrete answer because it isn’t definitive. So, I did what any sane person would do. I started watching Sex and the City, that late 90’s/early 2000’s show that broke barriers for television and yet at this moment in time is extremely outdated. But there are elements of it that remain timeless. There are so many forms of media that showcase tight knit and intimate friend circles, and it got me wondering. who in my life are Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha. What elements of my friend circles help me cultivate the true meaning of love, sex, and relationships?

Luis is my Samantha. A friend who takes zero nonsense and shows up in unexpected ways. I wouldn’t call him a sexpot, but he pushes boundaries in ways of love, healthy relationships and communication that help me see what aspects of my life I’m missing. He recently shared a story with me about his almost steamy hookup experience with an

older man we’ll call Chad because he’s undeserving of a better name. But what was supposed to be a quick fling turned into practically nothing and a conversation about comfortability, emotional availability, and entitlement. He no longer was willing to compromise for this man and in turn Luis reclaimed his agency.

I admire that level of power and self awareness that many people don’t have. Luis set his parameters and intentions.

Next is Brian, my Miranda. A friend who works really hard to find his footing in this confusing and messy landscape of dating. His strengths are truly owning himself and his confidence when he finds moments of clarity within the complex emotions that come with it. What we have in common is a shared understanding that navigating love and life isn’t easy and doesn’t always go hand in hand. Despite everything he continues to show up even when it’s not easy.

Recently Brian experienced a situation that would make anyone’s heart turn slightly cold. We’ll call his ex “friend”

Danny Phantom for his quick ability to just ghost. Factor in long distance and a whirlwind

romance and a level of emotional availability only seen in romance novels you’d think his paramour is perfect. Absolutely wrong. Danny’s inability to own his lack of emotional strength turned into a breakdown of communication and left a slew of hurt feelings. If you’re not ready for a relationship don’t roll the die with someone else’s heart. Communicating is just the foundation and some people don’t really know what they desire.

Anthony is my Charlotte. Someone who can clutch their pearls as quickly as I can. Our commonality comes in the form of hopeless romanticism and believing in the magical moments of a first date. How quickly that can turn when feelings run high. Anthony is someone who loves hard and is willing to let himself fall into the fantasy. That comes with the inevitable caveat of what’s real and what isn’t. Anthony’s recent dating situation is less of a personal problem and more of a long-term incompatibility. What happens when everything feels right but you just realize it’s not a match. Missed connections aren’t easy to navigate, when you realize you may be better off

as friends than lovers. How do you still hold love and space for that not so perfect fit? There’s no one size fits all when it comes to love, sex, and relationships unless you’re a size queen and even then, it may not be enough for you.

Though I named the boys I’d be remiss without naming my choice for Stanford. My dear friend Bria. A Queer woman who knows how to own it in several aspects of life and her own needs in the process. She knows what she wants and knows how to be the kind of support you didn’t know you needed in your life. Her dating life is enigmatic but refreshing when you realize even on the other end of this spectrum of Queerness, she navigates the same issues we do. Straight, gay, bi or pan people still have their own doubts and insecurities that create turbulent situations. Recently she had an experience with someone we’ll refer to as a “two-piece combo”. Why?, you ask. Because she hit Bria with a two-piece of information between the status of her relationship and her feelings on the subject. It wasn’t cute and Bria promptly said “You’re dismissed”, and to “Slide up out of her DM’s”.

I’ve learned a lot over the last few months and one of those things is to ask for clear communication and for people to be truthful about their intentions. Mixed signals are the bane of starting a healthy foundation. If you don’t know what someone else wants, how do you move the relationship

forward? We talked a little about my friendships and the archetypes they cover from Sex and the City. Well, yours truly here is Carrie. We’ll call me Korie Bradshaw if you will. I’m neurotic, needy, and I crave validation. But I’m more than the worst parts of myself just like Carrie was more than our heroine. She was a deeply flawed individual & sometimes the villain of her own story who was still worthy of finding love in other forms. But even she wasn’t immune to the same trials we all experience while looking for love and happiness. Carrie was selfish and sometimes you need to be. But one thing is for sure is she leaned on powerful friendships.

Sex and the City aside, we learn so much from watching the world around us and leaning on others can teach us a lot. I’ve learned from my friends’ dating scenarios that there’s a lot of similarities and lessons you can see just from opening up and being vulnerable with other people. If that’s so easy for some of us, can it be easy with a partner?

Ask yourself and your loved ones the next time it’s time to sit around a table and share dating stories. Your friends’ experiences are not yours but what can you pick up from one another that you’re not learning from your own experiences?

Is it a mixed signal or a missed connection?

Which side of this have you been on in your dating history?

(photo by Ashley Kaplan
“As I’ve stated before, we all long for companionship in different forms”


Connor Maddocks

—Connor Maddocks has been a civil rights advocate in the San Diego Transgender community for years. He does trainings on legal and personal transition information. He continues his work, even though he is now retired. Contact Conner at

On January 25, 2023 I had the honor to attend a City Council Meeting in Santee, CA. A neighboring city I am sure you all know. You may wonder why I call it an honor? The reason is I was there to support my dear friend and fellow community member Christynne Lili Wrene Wood. She stood before a crowd of hostile Santee residents, and luckily many of her own supporters, to answer to a false claim against her. If you are familiar at all with the reputation of the city well known in our circles as “Klantee”, throw in the fact that she is also a proud Black woman, this is no small feat of heroism. I don’t know how she got through it with such grace and aplomb. She made us all proud, she is a true Trans Warrior. If you haven’t heard the story just google Santee Transgender Woman YMCA. It was emotionally challenging to be in that Council room, for me and many others. The hate that was extolled on Christynne and our community caused actual physical symptoms for me. I hid it well, but for others they were visibly shaken. We read about this all the time but we go relatively unscathed in San Diego for the most part. Oh there are incidents and petty annoyances, but this one just hit too close to home for me. Our entire country seems to be in some place of total chaos and hatred we haven’t seen the likes of in many years. It’s not just in the big cities or those other states, it’s right here in our own backyard. We have a large and rather out LGBTQ community here in San Diego County and I think it’s time to create a bigger and better network of activists to answer to these happenings of hate. I think I am fairly well connected to the community, but why didn’t I hear about it until the 2nd protest held at the YMCA on Saturday January 19th? Why haven’t most people I have since talked to hear about it? This is one of the ways the right wing puts us all to shame, our community members, our community organizations, our media outlets like Facebook and Twitter or TikTok that so many of us use, they use it better. We can’t protest, we can’t make a stand, we can’t expect



anyone to take us seriously if 10 people show up instead of hundreds like they have. Were any Trans leaders brought in to discuss ways to react to this? Does anyone ever consider that Transgender people need to have a place at the table?

San Diego Pride along with 27 or so other organizations signed on, put out a statement but it was too little too late. Also why were those organizations not passing on the story to their staff and volunteers to get the word out? One of my questions is this, who is deciding what we should and shouldn’t know??? Who is deciding for the Trans community what is important enough to make phone calls, send text messages, and gather the masses? I think it’s time we find a way to create our own chain of information. If we all sit around and wait until someone else decides to put the message out there, we are crushed every time by the opposition.

After 20 years of activism in San Diego for the Transgender, Non-binary, Intersex and LGB community I still cannot understand why I and other Transgender leaders are not being brought into the information circle. Is this just blatant Transphobia rearing its ugly head, or is it just that those who call themselves leaders feel they need to handle issues all by themselves? I would really like to understand this. I am beyond frustrated at being left out of the conversations.

Am I angry? You bet I am. Should my community be angry? You bet they should. If your organization doesn’t have Trans inclusion, or racial equity or a true representation of the people you serve, FIX IT. If you have tried to get on a board and have not been successful maybe you should

talk to someone about why that is. If you know of an organization that is speaking for people without the buy-in of that community, question it. We cannot be complacent anymore, as one person at the Santee City Council said, this is War! You bet it is lady, but the war is against you and all the people who war on us, even if that includes someone you know. But on the other side of the coin, what can the San Diego Trans Community be doing to help themselves?? How do you bring this incredibly marginalized and fractured community together? What is the LGB Community doing to help themselves and their Trans and Non-Binary and Intersex

siblings? When is it going to be time for everyone to be an activist, when will things be bad enough for individual members of our community to say enough is enough, I need to do something. Oh you don’t know how to be an activist, you don’t need to be inclusive, and it’s not my problem. You all know those words and I am here to tell you IT IS OUR PROBLEM! The Trans community is fighting for their very lives, I hope you care about that.

Here is how you can be an activist. Attend a rally or a protest. Bring friends with you. Watch social media for action alerts or stories of hate, and after you read it you pass it along, to as many people

as possible. Make signs for a rally or protest if you are too uncomfortable to go yourself, supply water or snacks for these events. There are so many ways every single person can contribute, yet they are not. Yes, you too can be an armchair activist, which is better than just ignoring what is going on around you. The apathy I have been seeing lately is driving me crazy. How many of you showed up for the rally after the Colorado Springs Shooting?? How many showed up for the event when the Marriage Equality Act was passed? How many of you volunteer with some community organization, even if it’s only once a year? Don’t tell me you can’t do that. How many of you are out and proud volunteering for events in our beautiful city? We need to be out there and show everyone that we are just as good, just as smart and just as caring for everyone. So go out, party on and let someone else worry about your world. Doesn’t count if it’s not happening to you, right?

Let’s keep in mind that everyone matters and if you are unhappy about a community organization, club, leadership, or whatever that you have a responsibility to DO something about it. Let’s get out of our vacuums and see life around us. It is easier now, more than at any time in history, to communicate how we feel to pretty much anyone. Emails are easy to access and letters to Board of Directors, CEO’s, and membership is available to anyone to write. Stop sitting around in the local clubs and restaurants and picnics and grumble about how things are, instead make a plan of action and follow it through, have others join you, the power is with the people, as long as there are enough of you.

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Brittany Berger

— Brittany Berger (she/her) is a mother of four and an ally to her three Queer adolescent children. Five years of midwifery education has given her the gift of exploring her biases and learning about social justice, activism, and being an ally.

Contact Brittany @

As a parent of a Trans son, I am devastated to learn of yet another state making gender affirming care nearly impossible for youth under the Transgender umbrella to grasp. LGBTQ San Diego County News’ contributing author Connor Maddox reports in this month’s issue on the many states who have been falling in line to ban gender-affirming care or develop anti-trans legislation.

On Saturday January 28, 2023, Utah’s Governor Cox, who last year vetoed a similar bill, signed an even harsher one just one day after it landed on his desk. The decision, he announced, was due to the need that more scientific research on gender-affirming treatments needs to be done.

It is upsetting that the conservative religious extremists that are pushing the need for scientific research are the ones that usually don’t trust science at all.

Connor is absolutely right about being careful where you choose to live when you have a child in transition and that we need to stay vigilant about our elected officials if we want to ensure that our children remain safe in so-called safe states. So, parents of LGBTQ+ children need to come together and utilize our resources to speak out. Last month I discussed how to be an ally, and right now this is one way to do just that.

Just because California offers protective laws for our children does not mean the work is over. It took a lot of work to get where we are in safe states today, but there are still conservative agendas out there looking for weak links to undo a half century of activism that stemmed from trauma and discrimination that the older generations in the community sacrificed for our children so they can be destigmatized.

If you have a child who is Queer or questioning, under the Trans umbrella, Gay, Bisexual, or you know of a family learning about their children’s sexuality and gender identity please reach out to the local PFLAG. In San Diego there are monthly PFLAG support groups. Their website is updated with current meeting times and places @


North County Coastal Support Group northcountycoastalsdc@pflag. com (first Monday of the month from 6:30-8:30 pm)

North County Inland (4S Ranch/Del Sur/Rancho Bernardo/Poway) Support Group, RBPowaysdc@pflag. com or

(second Tuesday of the month from 7:00-8:30 pm)

South Bay and Imperial Valley Support Group (third Thursday of the month from 7:00-8:30 pm)

San Diego Metro and East County Support Groups have merged for the timebeing,

(fourth Monday of the month from 7:00-8:30 pm)

AAPI Support Group (Asian, Pacific Islander or South Asian heritage or affiliation), while the PFLAG SDC chapter is not currently meeting, you can attend the San Gabriel Valley PFLAG AAPI Support Group (fourth Sunday of the month from 3:00-5:00 pm) or PFLAG National: pflag. org/connects/communities/aapi

(second Saturday of the month from 3:00-5:00pm PST)

If your child is not feeling safe at their school or anywhere else, consider if there is an opportunity to reach out to PFLAG to learn about their Speaker’s Bureau. PFLAG

SDC’s Speakers Bureau is a voice in the community that at no charge, provides trained and dedicated PFLAG SDC members to speak at school, college and university classrooms, businesses, community organizations, and other groups to share their experiences, answer any questions and raise awareness regarding diversity issues. This type of education and advocacy needs to be ongoing like a broken record if we are going to educate those who continue to stigmatize our youth.

Our Queer youth should feel safe, but we continue to be reminded of the lack of education and the political agendas that are meant to break down peace and isolate our young people.

If your child has been so lucky to have grown up in an oasis of acceptance and love, they may not be prepared to know what’s coming. Decide when it is right for your family to have the talk about harsh environment outside of the oasis and the possibility of it infecting their bubble. For example, in Utah for one, Transgender girls cannot compete in sports. Does this have the possibility of affecting where our kids want to go to college? Absolutely! What about Transgender athletes that want to compete outside the safe state with protective laws that they live in? These are questions that have not completely been answered.

If your child feels the stigma of this infectious anti-Transgender legislation then check in with them and help them find support groups, mental

health resources, or provide an opportunity for them to let out their frustrations in a safe place.

Half of all Transgender people are between 13 and 25

years old, and this number is increasing at an astonishing rate. We need more allies on board. We need improved education. We need schools to recognize our children’s needs and foster safe environments for our children to grow. We need this anti-Trans legislation to stop so that our children can have a normal life free from stigma. I hope all parents find it in them to do at least one affirming action to show their kids that they are their ally in the wake of all of this so that they feel supported and see the person they look up to the most responding to this devastating outbreak of anti-Trans laws flooding this country so at least in our homes our children will know they are safe and that there is nothing wrong with them!

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Randy Eggle (image
“We need more allies on board and improved education”
Tim Madeline Lesley Ann EileenMichael Christopher Martin Curry Kahn Warren BrennanMcKean Lloyd Mull

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is once again seeking to update policies regarding blood donor eligibility. Over the last decade, our community has seen progress in the FDA’s treatment of gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM) in screening and banning (what they call “deferral”) rules for blood and plasma donations.

In 1985, the FDA imposed a lifetime ban for any male donor who had ever had sex with another man, even once, if sex was after 1977. This policy remained unchanged until 2015 when the lifetime ban was replaced with a one-year donation ban for MSM and those with other disqualifying conditions, such a drug users and sex workers. Then in 2020, the ban was lowered again to only three months.

The current rules went into effect in April 2020, in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency and reported shortages in the blood supply. The policy maintains a time-based deferral for MSM and women who have sex with MSM counting from the last sexual encounter.

This January, the FDA issued draft guidance to assess “donor eligibility using genderinclusive, individual risk-based questions relevant to HIV risk” for most individuals except for those with other risk factors, and anyone taking medication to treat or prevent HIV infection. This would include anyone taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), postexposure prophylaxis (PEP), and those already diagnosed with HIV taking antiretroviral therapy (ART).

U=U for Sexual Transmission Only

Antiretroviral drugs are safe and effective at reducing the HIV viral load to undetectable levels, but drugs do not fully eliminate the virus from the body. Donated blood from individuals infected with HIV can “potentially still transmit HIV to a transfusion recipient,” according to the FDA.

The risk of HIV transmission from blood transfusion is low, estimated at a “residual risk” of one in 1.47 million, the FDA indicated. It also stated no transmissions of HIV, Hepatitis B or C have been documented through U.S.-licensed plasma-derived products in the

Q Puzzle


past three years.

Importantly, the FDA underscored that “undetectable equals untransmissible for sexual transmission, [but] this does not apply to transfusion transmissions.” Its recommendation maintains a lifetime ban for anyone with a known HIV positive test result or who has ever taken medication to treat HIV.

Rules for HIV Prevention Medication Users

Currently, uniform use of nucleic acid testing for Hepatitis B and C and HIV can all detect these viruses within a threemonth period following initial infection. In deciding against extending individual risk-based assessments for individuals on PReP and PEP, the FDA stated that use of said drugs may “delay detection” which may result “in false negative results.”

The FDA acknowledged it considered alternatives to timebased bans. These included “prescreening and qualification” of MSM for donation of pathogen-reduced platelets or plasma or Source Plasma and re-testing donors for HIV after a quarantine hold period. These alternatives, however, were deemed “operationally complex.” Additionally, pathogen reduction devices are currently only approved for platelets and plasma for transfusion. No recommendations were made to review other operational alternatives.

Avoiding other operational alternatives, the FDA is banning blood donations from people currently taking HIV prevention medication. Specifically, a three-month deferral from the last dose for those taking oral medication and a two-year deferral from the last injection for anyone taking the preventative medication by injection.

New Screening Criteria for All Donors

The FDA’s “gender-inclusive, individual risk-based” screening criteria seems to narrowly tailor screening to one factor: Anal sex.

Donors who report a new sexual partner or more than one sexual partner in the last three months are then asked about a history of anal sex in the past three months. A history of anal sex with a new partner or more than one partner in the last three months will result in a three-month

donation ban, from the last sexual act.

These criteria, according to the FDA, are expected to reduce the likelihood of donations from individuals with new or recent HIV infection who are within the three-month window period for nucleic acid testing detection.

Other Disqualifying Factors

Unchanged from the FDAs 2020 recommendations is a three-month ban, from the last incident, of the following:

- Exchanging sex for money or drugs.

- Non-prescription injection drug use.

- Contact with another’s blood.

- Receiving a blood transfusion.

- Recent tattoo, unless tattoo was applied by a state regulated entity with sterile needles and non-reused ink.

- Recent piercing, unless pierced using single-use equipment.

- After completing treatment for syphilis or gonorrhea.

Criticism of New Policy

“This latest FDA policy on gay men donating blood continues decades of discrimination not rooted in science,” said San Francisco-based Senate Senator Scott Wiener, a former chair of the Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, via a series of Tweets, also shared on Instagram.

Wiener declares, “The FDA continues to issue non-sciencebased blood donation policies that effectively ban gay men & other people from donating. This time, FDA is categorically banning people taking PrEP from donating despite the fact that PrEP almost completely eliminates the risk of contracting HIV.”

“So you can have vaginal sex with 300 people. But if you have anal sex with 2 people, you’re banned,” Weiner lampooned the new policy.

Share Your Thoughts

The Federal eRulemaking Portal: allows for submission of electronic comments on the draft guidance by March 31, 2023, to ensure that the Agency considers comment on this draft guidance before it begins work on the final version of the guidance. Comments should reference Docket No. FDA-2015-D-1211.



1 Rio step

6 Tallulah’s home state, for short

10 Type of shot for Patty Sheehan

14 Garden-variety

15 “Break ___!”

16 Glinda portrayer in “The Wiz”

17 One thousandth

18 “The Lion King” sound

19 Slips up

20 Start of a quote by 36-Across 23 Aspirin unit

29 Bree Van ___ of Wisteria Lane 33 Comes before 35 El Prado, for one 36 Cross-dressing saint of Arc


1 Bottom line

2 Mishima’s continent

3 Consider, with “over”

4 Hammer made from a testicle?

5 Covered for

6 President in “The West Wing”

7 What little things mean, in a Cher song

8 Board in a rooming house

9 “It’s a deal!”

10 Like a neatly done circumcision?

11 “Cabaret” mister

12 About, in memos

13 “Swan Lake” step

21 Alan of “And the Band Played On”

22 Comes across as

25 Indian chief

26 ___ Gay

27 Part of a flight

28 Two guys lived together in his book

30 Lake Nasser dam

31 “Let ___ of here!” (closet cry?)

32 Polliwog’s places

34 What Tim might call Tyne

38 Concern for boxers

40 Newspaper publisher Adolph

41 Emily Dickinson, in her day

42 Setting for Cather’s “My ¡ntonia”

45 “Tin men” of sci-fi

47 Language that sounds like “gay lick”

48 Fur fit for a queen

50 Hard to mount

51 Male mating call?

52 It’s sometimes a drag

53 Wilder’s “The Bridge of San ___ Rey”

54 Bean’s team, e.g.

55 “___ cost you!”

56 Scott of “Beautiful Thing”

57 They don’t hang out in gay bars

Solutions on page 18

24 In view
25 Gave another cream pie?
37 More of the quote
dentist may stick it
your mouth
Penetrate the cracks
39 He was a knockout at the gym 40 Contend with 43 CPA, at times 44 Like some gay porn 46 Guys under Hoover, e.g. 49 Carla portrayer on “Cheers” 50 S&M souvenir 51 End of the quote 58 Romantic island for gay weddings 59 Lake of Ohio ferries 60 Pop
fluid 62 Trig
63 A
64 Untouchable


— Berto Fernandez is a Puerto Rican actor, singer, and artist currently performing in Theatre productions all over Southern California. He holds a BA in Communications, and is a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community.

When we think of iconic pop culture movies that us members of the LGBTQ community arguably consider iconic and extremely quotable, we think of Wizard of Oz, Mommie Dearest, Devil Wears Prada, Legally Blonde, and duh! Mean Girls! Makes complete sense that Tina Fey (writer of the original screenplay and nine-time Emmy winner) would adapt the popular camp film into a full-blown musical, making its San Diego debut at the historic Civic Theater in Downtown playing February 28 through March 5, 2023.

Adaptations of films turned into musicals is a popular trend for Broadway productions, as they hope to introduce Theatre to a broader audience while making a solid amount of profit. I recall standing in line at the Times Square TKTS (Day of discounted Broadway show ticket booth) looking for a new show to see, and Legally Blonde: The Musical was on there. I said to myself “This is probably going to be terrible”, but I reluctantly bought my ticket. During intermission, I ended up walking to the merch table and buying the CD (yes, back in the day, theaters would sell show soundtracks on an actual compact disc) and a t-shirt. The show was so funny and clever.

Some movie adaptations are undoubtedly better than others but Mean Girls in particular has received rave reviews from both critics and audiences since it debuted on Broadway in 2018 following a successful premiere in Washington, DC in the Fall of 2017. The soundtrack quickly became an industry favorite due to its catchy melodies and satire driven lyrics.

For those of you not familiar with the popular film, it follows Cady Heron, a teenager who grew up in continental Africa until her parents decided to move back to the suburbs of Chicago, United States. Cady is enrolled in the local high school and encounters the clear social structure of the students by their hobbies, personality, and popularity. The school is ruled by The Plastics, a trio of polarizing girls with shady Queen Bee Regina George on the throne. Cady’s plan to infiltrate the group and topple the plastic reign is not

an easy task and comes with a price.

Paramount Pictures, alongside Lorne Michaels, Stuart Thompson, and Sonia Friedman produce the show, while Emmy winner Jeff Richmond (30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Saturday Night Live and Girls5Ev) composed the music, Tony nominee Nell Benjamin penned lyrics, and Tony winner Casey Nicholaw, a San Diego native, directs and choreographs.

Casting a show like this, that has such a broad follow-

ing because of the box office hit film, would be a daunting task, but it is noteworthy to point out that for this First National Tour, all three “Plastics” are women of color. This is an absolute win for Theatre’s rocky journey to excel in cast diversity and inclusion. The cast is led by English Bernhardt in the role of Cady Heron, Nadina Hassan as ruthless Regina George, Jasmine Rogers as Gretchen Wieners, and Morgan Ashley Bryant playing Karen Smith. They are joined by Cady’s

“all three “Plastics” are women of color. This is an absolute win for Theatre’s rocky journey to excel in cast diversity and inclusion.”

goth friend Janis Sarkisian, played by Broadway’s Lindsay Heather Pearce, alongside “too gay to function” Damian Hubbard, played by Eric Huffman. A beautifully diverse ensemble rounds up the cast of the Mean Girls National Tour.

As a fan of the movie, I’m stoked to see the musical adaptation and witness how the creative team can translate the campy humor and dark satirical spirit of Tina Fey’s script. Her involvement in the show surely has been crucial to the success of the adaptation.

So, get all your friends together, dress in pink (even if it’s not a Wednesday), and come see Mean Girls at the Civic Theatre. You can definitely sit with us!

Mean Girls is presented by Broadway San Diego with performances February 28 through March 5th at the Civic Center in Downtown San Diego. Tickets and info: upcoming-events/mean-girls/

Pictured (L-R) English Bernhardt (Cady Heron), Jasmine Rogers (Gretchen Wieners), Nadina Hassan (Regina George), and Morgan Ashley Bryant (Karen Smith) Photos by Jenny Anderson Pictured (L-R) Eric Huffman (Damian Hubbard) and Lindsay Heather Pearce (Janis Sarkisian) Nadina Hassan (Regina George)


Globe-commissioned world premiere

Directed by James Vásquez

The Old Globe Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre

February 11 – March 12, 2023

As part of The Old Globe’s commitment to bring new and impactful plays to their stage, resident artist James Vásquez directs José Cruz González’s Under a Baseball Sky inspired greatly by San Diego’s Logan Heights neighborhood. The play depicts the story of Teo, a troublemaker, who is assigned to work cleaning up a neighbor’s vacant lot, and through this forms a connection with his community, culture, and America’s favorite sport…baseball


Music & Lyrics by Cole Porter

Original Book by P.G. Wodehouse, Guy Bolton, Howard Lindsay & Russel Crouse

New Book by: Timothy Crouse & John Weidman

Directed by Omri Schein

Choreography by Xavier J. Bush

Music Direction by Van Angelo San Diego Musical Theatre

February 10 - March 12, 2023 Classic Cole Porter Musical Theatre show Anything Goes sets sail at San Diego Musical Theatre this month. The show follows Billy Crocker and his love antics as a stowaway onboard The S. S. American sailing between New York and England. This spectacular show features an uber talented cast and plenty of high energy choreography to please audiences.


Directed by Kerry Meads

Lamb’s Players Theatre

Feb 3, 2023 - March 12, 2023 Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado brings you another musical revue show, this time featuring the incredible women of the 60’s. A stellar cast of local talent celebrates the music of sensational divas like Aretha Franklin, Joni Mitchell, Dionne Warwick, Janis Joplin, Diana Ross, Brenda Lee, and more.


Directed by Niyi Coker Jr.

Diversionary Theatre

February 9 - March 5, 2023

Diversionary brings to the stage a powerful story of family, tradition, and understanding by British playwright Temi Wilkey. Tara and Leah are in the process of planning their wedding but discover that Tara’s Nigerian parents refuse to attend the ceremony, while, from the other side, her ancestors have a dilemma of their own, as they decide if they will bless their union or not.


hat started as a personal social media project via Instagram during the pandemic, Hillcrest San Diego has become a 10K subscriber resource for news, history, memes, and all things Hillcrest. We caught up with Rick Cervantes the force behind the account to get to know more about the motivation behind it, the plans for the Instagram account and the upcoming inaugural #hillcrestsandiego Honors with its reception schedule for Monday February 6 at Uptown tavern to honor local community members and organizations.

Tell us how the Instagram account idea came about?

First, a little bit about me as I think it gives some context into why I created the @HillcrestSanDiego account on Instagram. I am Rick Cervantes, a first generation Mexican American, and English is my second language. I grew up as the child of poor migrant farm workers in Central California. By the second grade, I was a professional translator for my parents, helping they pay their bills or share their concerns with customer service representatives. I grew up in a traditional Mexican and Catholic background, which meant my coming out as gay in high school did not go over well with my family. I wanted to get out of my hometown to somewhere that seemed more LGBTQ friendly, and I worked to get into San Diego State University as a transfer student for third and fourth years of college. I first encountered Hillcrest when I visited San Diego with friends when I was 18- or 19- years old. I fell in love with the neighborhood and was so excited to finally move here in 2006 at 20 years old to finish my degree at SDSU. In early 2007, I met Benny Cartwright who has been one of our longest Hillcrest boosters and he taught me so much history and more about the neighborhood and I’ve loved being a big part of this place ever since. Creating the account really came about because of my deep love for Hillcrest and its people. In 2019, I noticed that many other neighborhoods in town had their own fun but informative Instagram accounts, and I thought I’d make one for Hillcrest. It was perfect timing as much of our hyperlocal and LGBTQ media sources went out of business or changed their format so there really wasn’t any source left that shared direct information about Hillcrest happenings. And since it’s a social media account, I can have a lot of fun with it, and post more than just news.

Were you surprised at the response?

I had no idea how fast this account would grow and what it would become! I am now about to approach 11,000 followers and every single follower has come organically - there have been no paid follows or spamming. What’s even better is this social media community I have built is incredibly engaged and interacts

with the posts, comments, and shares new information. I also get so many messages ranging from questions about community resources, to people across the country who wish they were in Hillcrest thanking me for bringing the neighborhood to them. It warms my heart to see how much this account impacts people and most importantly, connects them to Hillcrest. This neighborhood is special because it’s one of the few places in town that is loved by people who live in or out of the area. I don’t know too many who love a neighborhood like, say, Clairemont, unless they live there. Hillcrest is special to people around the world and I have the privilege of being able to share about it!

What do you hope to accomplish with the posts?

In Hillcrest, I’ve been able to find people who are like my second family, especially since I’ve always struggled finding my place. Some say I’m “not Mexican enough”, while others treat me poorly because I’m Brown. People in activist spaces have said I’m not progressive enough, while others find my liberal views to be too much. I’m not enough of a barfly/circuit queen for the nightlife community, but others think I enjoy bars too much. I’m at a wonderful intersection of different parts of our community that don’t historically know how to interact with each other, so I am so happy to have created this account to bridge these gaps

munity so I do my best and always welcome suggestions for things I may not see.

Tell us about the Inaugural Hillcrest San Diego Honors?

As this account’s primary goal is to uplift and celebrate our great neighborhood, Benny Cartwright and I came up with the idea to create an awards program, sponsored by the account, that celebrates the amazing people, organizations, and businesses that make Hillcrest so fabulous. We opened a nomination period through the account’s Instagram story, and in under 24 hours, received hundreds of nominations across a variety of categories. It was hard to pick because we know there are so many people who do great things every single day - often without acknowledgment - but we went ahead and selected the names and businesses that appeared most in the nominations. After getting such an amazing response from the announcement of the honorees, we decided we might as well host a party to celebrate! We are so grateful to Uptown Tavern for hosting us, it’s going to be an exciting night. One thing that some people have had difficulty understanding is that this awards program is different than other community awards. We purposefully are not calling honorees “The Best of …”, and there was no “voting” following the initial nominations. We are simply highlighting “Fabulous” people in the community, and the award’s titles reflect that. We know there are so many people and businesses and organizations who do great things, so no one is “the best”. We also plan to do this for years to come - in a bigger fashion - so there are so many other people to celebrate and honor in future events!

What is in the works for Hillcrest San Diego?

- between intergenerational,

- between intergenerational, the activist scene and the bar scene, or whatever other gaps I see in my sphere. As I mentioned, my goal is to build a connection with everyone who follows. I want to share about Hillcrest happenings, I want to share resources, I want to uplift people doing great things, and post some fun memes that relate to Hillcrest culture while I’m at it. I always make it clear to people that this account is “unofficial” - meaning I don’t represent any organization. That is extremely freeing, but frustrating at times when people criticize the account for not representing the community as they see it. I am one person, and this is Hillcrest through my eyes. I think I have a good pulse on the com-

Through this account, I’ve built a digital organizing community. As a communications professional, I know my target audience, and I know what they want to see on their feeds. I like to sprinkle in current events, and things that I keep close to my heart. I hope to continue humanizing this account through my eyes. I’ve always wanted to start my own communications agency, and maybe this is the starting point to get to that dream! Also, I promised myself that I would be the role model that I never had growing up, so I hope to continue using this account to spread that visibility. I hope to continue what I’m doing- spotlighting our great community.

I hope to grow the account substantially and possibly even create some opportunities for organizations and businesses to utilize the account to promote themselves. The sky is the limit with social media and the creativity of Hillcrest and I’m excited to be a part of it! This account is my love letter to Hillcrest and a testament that a community can uplift its members and help them shine!

Rick Cervantes (courtesy image)

When I was a little kid, I was told to believe in fairy tales. Stories of knights saving princesses, dragons being slayed and the promise of a happily ever after. That promise of a utopia where goodness always wins. In elementary school those stories were translated into the belief of a better tomorrow. So, for one month out of the academic year, we opened our textbooks and learned about the basics of civil rights. The integration of public schools so that people who look like me can be seen as equal to their pastel-colored counterparts. The belief that even though we’re all just different shades we still fit into this 64pack crayon box. We learned about the march on Washington and the dream of Martin Luther King Jr. that spawned an era of fighting for our rights and quotes used out of context to this day. We learned of separate water fountains and store entrances for white people only and colored people had to just find somewhere else to utilize goods and services. In learning these hard truths, the bubble was burst, and I could no longer find the beauty in my own skin color. For years, I had to navigate what does my blackness mean to me? What does it mean to be this color and feel I’m not fitting into the molds and expectations set for me? One day I just didn’t want to believe in these fairy tales anymore and that’s exactly what the narrative of Black History Month was. I wanted to learn how to change that for myself.

Since 1976 February was designated Black History Month and has been taught in schools and public spaces all over the country. Countless selections of books, streaming catalogues and lesson plans dedicated to sharing and uplifting black narratives. In some ways it’s validating to know that the rich history and culture of an enslaved and oppressed people is being learned about and celebrated. But on another end of that spectrum is the belief that we sanitize too much of said history to be palatable to everyone. The reality is black history is being made every single day for good or ill. From the stories of how we were brought to this country, the strides in innovation to the rallying cries of Black



Lives Matter in the face of prejudice and violence in this world. We are still here surviving within the trauma.

As a Black and Queer person, I don’t have the luxury to go through life believing that we’re living in a world where our safety matters to anyone but each other. From the Queer community I navigate the fetishization and regular dehumanization of my race by relegating us to just sexual objects or a conquest. From the rest of the world, it’s this innate fear that I’m not good enough to be in the spaces I occupy. The pressure to be perfect so there’s not a reason to even think or utter the words dumb and n**ge* in the same sentence. If you don’t know what word I just censored, open your eyes. I don’t want to hear “Does that still happen?”

“No, we live in California that doesn’t exist here.” And finally the greatest hit, “I don’t see color.” If I can’t pretend, then neither should you. Our skin colors hold value whether we want to believe that or not. Even if we’re created equal, we are not treated equal. Continuing on my path of growing up, I was fortunate enough to have educators who really told the truth about American history. How you can’t tell these stories without the nuances of other cultures storytelling.

Blackness isn’t just the stereotypes placed upon us. It’s a tapestry of untapped potential that needs to be cultivated and pushed forward. A question for our readers: How many of you had black educators teaching you about black history?

Of my time from K-12, I had one black teacher. It shouldn’t matter, right? But it does. As I praise some of the teachers I had in my life, I can also critique my past for what it was.

Growing up believing that those who look like me are out there feeling as inadequate as I did. The Black History Month that I want to learn about is the one I now have created for myself. The one where I continue to educate myself about individuals who have pushed the boundaries for our people. From modern day change makers like Alicia Garza, Kia Labeija and DeRay McKesson continuing legacies trail blazed by MLK Jr., Marsha P. Johnson and

Angela Davis to name a few albeit contemporary names. These are the names I want to keep hearing. I want to keep reading the works of great authors like Toni Morrison, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Langston Hughes and so many more. Consuming the media of individuals like Jordan Peele and Issa Rae. Sending our flowers to trailblazers like Hattie McDaniel. Celebrating the music of Janelle Monae, Prince & so many others. Whew I haven’t name dropped that many people since I tried to get into the club one night. Just kidding. The point is there are so many of us and we still haven’t gotten our forty acres and a mule. but we’ll discuss that later. We live in a constant state of renaissance during the Black and African diaspora and that’s the Black History Month that I want. We are more than our past and more than the wounds that have cut so deep. Can these wounds heal, or will we continue to stitch them up and continue the scars?

Black people don’t have a monopoly on pain, but we share a commonality within our history. But I also want to showcase the joy and it’s important that we hold both together. As I write these words, I’m reminded about the most recent deaths of black people in this country. Tyre Nichols and Keenan Anderson, say their names. They are our history. Their lives, their deaths, their stories, and our fight to continue sharing their narratives. How do we show the beauty of life within the suffering? Can our history also be a celebration of the lives we’ve lived, holding onto the good and the bad? I no longer believe in a world where we are solely loved for the skin we live in. But I do believe in a world where we continue to show up for one another, because who else will at the end of the day?

What do you believe in? How will you celebrate Black History? Revel in our culture and celebrate our lives as you ponder those questions. Beyond February, continue to celebrate blackness. Open your hearts, minds, and even your wallets to causes that uplift the black community. That’s the Black History Month I believe in.

Students re-enact the 1968 sanitation works strike in commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the 50th anniversary of his assassination in Memphis, Tenn., on April 4, 2018. Luke Sharrett / Bloomberg via Getty Images

bout 50 family members, friends, and co-workers of Kevin Powell gathered in court Jan. 11 to see his husband get sentenced to 16 years to life in prison for killing him in 2020.

Though Daniel Scott Jordan, 47, is on his way to prison, left in the wake of his actions are deep traumas and grief still experienced by people who loved Kevin Powell, 38, because of the way he was killed.

Powell was stabbed 50 times, and Jordan left a knife embedded in his chest, which was discovered by two detectives making a welfare check in his La Mesa home when he didn’t show up for work on Aug. 11, 2020.

Nearly everyone who knew Kevin and who wrote letters to El Cajon Superior Court Kathleen Lewis stated how traumatized they were over the manner of his death.

One gay man, a member of Kevin’s family, wrote about his trauma to the judge that is public record. He will be referred to by the fictitious name of Jason in this story. He read his letter out loud in court.

“I admired Kevin and Scott’s relationship. I truly believed they were the best example of how a gay couple can thrive and succeed in a bigoted and divisive world,” wrote Jason, referring to Jordan by his middle name as did others.

“It gave me a sense of security for the future. That security has been destroyed,” wrote Jason. “The pain of this loss triggers me every single day. I cannot watch movies or television that include any violence now.”

“I now find it very difficult to cook, one of my favorite things to do. Every time I see a knife, even a butter knife, I imagine the knife that was left in Kevin’s chest,” wrote Jason. “I must work on this... because I refuse to let Scott take this joy from me too.”

Jordan pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and to using a deadly weapon, a knife, in the crime. Deputy District Attorney Eva Kilamyan said Jordan will have to serve 16 actual years before he could be eligible for parole.

Some of the 20+ letters were read in open court. The letters are public record, but the identities of some of the writers are withheld because their pain is too personal.

The common experiences people noted were:

*Many who obtained counseling, and/or therapy because of depression, anxiety, which helped.

*Many who received sleep aids or were prescribed tranquilizers, for anxiety, which helped.

*Obsessive thoughts about how Kevin must have suffered or how long the attack took place.

*Rage at Daniel Jordan for killing him.

*Questions about why Jordan would kill Kevin.

*Confusion about legal system.

*Fear the sadness will never go away.


*Some who wanted lights to remain on at night even while sleeping.

Powell worked in the human resources department for the city of Chula Vista and some of his co-workers’ sent letters and appeared at the sentencing.

“I asked a therapist why was I so sad and having such a hard time getting over my grief from Kevin’s murder,” wrote a co-worker. “She said I was not only mourning the loss of the friend I knew but the loss of the friendship we would have had in the future as well.”

“Counseling helped me some in dealing with the stages of shock, disbelief, anger, rage, denial and frustration,” said the victim’s father, Randall Powell, in court.

“I remember getting the call and falling to my knees and began wailing uncontrollably,” said the victim’s mother, Diane Powell, in court. “Now his spirit lives in my heart forever!”

“I have never had to write something like this before. I have never known anyone that was murdered before, and I hope I will never have to experience this again,” wrote a co-worker.

“How long did Kevin suffer?” asked one co-worker.

“I made over 25 calls to staff to inform them that Kevin had been murdered for fear they would find out from the news in a callous and cold way,” wrote Powell’s supervisor. “I was in no way prepared how to tell all my staff, Kevin’s co-workers and friends, this information.”

“Having to write Kevin’s eulogy at my mother’s request was one of the most difficult life experiences I have ever encountered. I have shed many tears with my family thinking about the loss of Kevin,” said his older brother, Kyle Powell.

“I have also experienced fits of rage where I dreamt about have 10 minutes alone with Scott handcuffed in his jail cell. However, revenge is not mine to seek,” wrote Kyle Powell, who then quoted Romans 12:19 about revenge.

“The nine days Scott was missing were absolutely terrifying. We thought there is absolutely no way Scott, a loved member of our family, was capable of such darkness,” wrote Jason.

“It was traumatic to relive and retell the stories and details repeatedly. What’s more,

many of the attorneys showed bias and made blatantly homophobic statements to myself and my family,” said Jason.

Judge Lewis told the group she read all of their letters and said “I can see and hear” their love for Powell.

“I think you should focus on his life and not on his death. Our time in life is short. He would want you to do that,” Lewis concluded. Psychotherapist Michael Kimmel has treated clients who have been traumatized and wrote an online column in this newspaper about four steps in processing trauma and personal grief in Dec. 2022.

“We have all lived through trauma,” wrote Kimmel, who added that he was even mugged at gunpoint in Hillcrest once.

Kimmel recommends group grief therapy, which the LGBT Center has, as do other organizations. He said that he was trained to do Trauma Release Exercise, or TRE, with clients.

Kimmel recommends the book “Coming Back to Life” by Joanna Macy and Molly Brown. Kimmel, who specializes in helping LGBTQ clients, can be contacted at (619) 955-3311 or at

Due to the horrific nature of the crime, Jordan may never be granted parole. It is possible he could be paroled in his 70s or 80s.

Lewis ordered Jordan to pay $7,500 to the state victim compensation program for funeral expenses, and $1,060 for crime scene clean-up costs. She fined him $10,070.

Jordan stood in an entrance hallway mostly out of view of the audience. His attorney, Patrick Kline, said Jordan took his advice by pleading guilty and accepting responsibility without having a preliminary hearing.

Jordan declined to make a statement to the probation department when they prepared a sentencing report which will follow him to prison. He was given credit for already serving 875 days in jail.

Jordan had fled to Nevada in his black Tesla, and then attempted suicide. He was hospitalized in Reno, and he was arrested there as authorities learned he was wanted in San Diego, where he later was extradited.




DANIEL SCOTT JORDAN, 47, IS ON HIS WAY TO PRISON Kevin Powell (courtesy image)


Anyone who knows Big Mike, knows he has used his birthday celebration in the past as a fundraiser every year since 1999. In 2019, Big Mike decided to end it after twenty years of pure success. In the process with the help of his friends and community supporters were able to raise tens

of thousands of dollars for so many worthy charity organizations. This January 18, 2023, to the generosity of this very dear and close friend Johan Engman who owns “Rise and Shine Restaurant Group” insisted to host and underwrite Big Mike’s entire birthday dinner and fundraiser. Held at his newest Fig Tree location in the East Village downtown, 695 Sixth Ave. San Diego, Ca. 92101. Opening his entire restaurant to Big Mike’s guests, providing a full staff, along with his corporate Chefs that prepared a delicious three coarse meal. Around seventy-five invites were personally sent out by Johan himself, asking his guests to donate

$66 to honor the birthday boy’s age, one hundred percent going right to the charity of Casa de Luz (

The evening was filled with so much love, support, and good food. Everyone had a great time socializing with each other and telling Big Mike stories. Towards the close of the evening Johan came out with a large check, presenting it to Big Mike, announcing that six thousand two hundred dollars had been raised and he would rounded it up to an even ten thousand dollars, on top of under writing the celebration. Big Mike was overwhelmed with the amount raised by his guests and


the generosity of his good friend to raise such a large amount. Thanking the room for taking the time to come and help him celebrate his birthday, he also had everyone sing Happy Birthday to Johan who had just celebrated his on January 15th. What a great friend Johan is to give up his own birthday to honor his wonderful friend Big Mike. Big Mike also gathered the entire Fig Tree staff and introduced each one by name and said, “If it was not for each member of this hardworking staff, this evening would not have been possible.” There was a lot of love, caring, and humanity in that restaurant shown by everyone.

The judge who heard James’ case on Jan. 6 was none other than Bonnie Dumanis, the former District Attorney and retired Superior Court judge who is also lesbian herself.

“She (Dumanis) was here as part of the Chief Justice’s temporary assigned judge’s programs,” said Superior Court spokeswoman Emily Cox on Monday.

The Chief Justice has a program to assign temporary judges from a list of retired judges to cover vacancies, illnesses, calendar congestion in the courts. Temporary judges are paid 92% of the salary of judges.


n anti-gay vandal who committed a hate crime in the popular Crest Cafe restaurant in Hillcrest in 2021 has been sentenced to 273 days in jail he has already served.

Cameron James, 43, of North Park, pleaded guilty Jan. 6 to misdemeanor battery

with a hate crime allegation and to interfering with a business in the July 24, 2021, incident.

The Crest Cafe recently celebrated its 40th anniversary on Robinson Avenue. It is like other businesses in Hillcrest with pride flags and other LGBTQ symbols displayed.

James targeted an employee and used gay slurs. He knocked over tables and chairs, and hit the victim with a chair, according to the City Attorney’s office.

James drew a swastika on a window and made a threat.

Police arrived and arrested James, who appeared to be

After James pleaded guilty to two counts, Dumanis dismissed other charges including possession of methamphetamine and interference with the victim’s civil rights, according to court records.

Because of his convictions, James is barred from owning or possessing firearms, records say.

“An assault on our LGBTQ+ community is an assault on all of us,” said City Attorney Mara Elliott in a statement.

“This conviction sends a strong message that hateful

speech and violent behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” said Elliott.

“Everyone deserves to be safe in their own community and free from abuse,” said Elliott.

The City Attorney’s office has prosecuted more than 23 hate crime cases as misdemeanors in the past three years. Elliott said her office can be reached at (619) 236-6220.

Hate crimes can also be charged as felonies by the District Attorney’s office in cases involving shootings, stabbings, and fights involving broken bones.

People can report hate crimes to the San Diego Police Department by calling their 24-hour number for non-emergency calls and general information at (619) 531-2000. If you have an 858 area code, you can call (858) 484-3154.

A crime report can be filed online at https://www.

The City Attorney’s website on hate crimes is cityattorney/resources/ say-no-to-hate